Emerging Scholars Grant Report from Dainius Genys

May 17, 2022

AABS is pleased to recognize Dainius Genys for his completion of the project “Mapping emotional (ine)qualities in the Baltic States,” for which he received the Research Grant for Emerging Scholars.

©Dainius Genys, 2022

 

Dr. Dainius Genys is a sociologist at Vytautas Magnus University (Kaunas, Lithuania), focusing on civil society issues (dissertation – “The Boundaries of Lithuanian Civil Society and Conflicts for it”). Lately he has been dedicated to the analysis of the interaction between social capital and dynamics of emotional state of society, especially in the context of Lithuanian emigration.

 

The Impact of an Award: Report from Dainius Genys

After the completion of his project, Dainius Genys submitted a reflection to AABS.
We thank him for his permission to publish his thoughts, which have been lightly edited.

 

My project “Mapping emotional (ine)qualities in the Baltic States” was dedicated to researching emotions in the Baltic States. The emerging scholars grant was meant to merge my previous case study of Lithuania with a comparative perspective covering an extended geographical area of the Baltic States. In particular, the project aimed to investigate the contexts that determine the peculiarities of emotional states of emigrants (in each country) and to compare these qualities among the countries.

The initial idea was to conduct three case studies by using analysis of scientific literature, secondary data (both qualitative and quantitative) analysis, and qualitative interviews with experts. But then the Covid-19 pandemic came unexpectedly and ruined most of those plans, including the research visits to Latvia and Estonia. The activities planned for 2020 had to be postponed due to the complete lockdown. And when it seemed that after the first quarantine, it would again be possible to realize research visits, the second wave hit the world.

Instead of leaning into uncertainty I finished the Lithuanian case study and managed to submit two papers: the first was directly related to the research topic and the second (which wasn’t planed) was a bit broader, but also related to the topic and took into account the pandemic context.

The new reality forced me to adjust my research design to include new elements that were previously unplanned but had become too obvious to ignore, i.e. not only to focus preconditions of emotional well-being and its dynamics in general, but also to address current situation by looking for links with the Covid-19 statistics and the specific behavioral patterns in each country.

The new research question evolved organically and was based on two theoretical notions stemming from a democratization perspective (Dahrendorf 1990, Dahl 1994, Howard 2003, Kavolis 2006), which discuss the interrelation between democracy and the level of participation, having very practical consequences on the quality of life—not only civic participation, but also [how] emotional wellbeing grows out of sincere concern with and personal responsibility for public affairs. This notion was successfully proved in previous studies, but I didn’t have a chance to test it in a broader context and compare among the Baltic States. Moreover, notable differences in pandemic management strategies as well as their implications for society have led me to focus on the independent period, looking for specificities in the paths taken by each country.

Therefore, the new goal was to conduct empirical data, illustrating the dynamics of democratic, economical, and emotional wellbeing development as well as pandemic related statistics on the Baltic countries.

The AABS grant contributed to my plan to expand my research and make a comparative analysis of the Baltic States by supporting the collection of empirical data. The process was successful despite significant impediments due to the peculiarities of each database or in some cases even missing information:

  • All data used in the analysis portion of the research was sourced externally, relying on primary and secondary datasets from various research institutions, government organizations, business and economic databases, media sources and scholarly articles.
  • To effectively explore the mechanisms driving the emotional transformation of the emigres in the Baltic States it was important to collect data going as far back as the early 90’s, when these countries were just regaining their independence. This timeframe would allow for the research to carry out the most robust comparative analysis, by following trends among economic, socio-political, and socio-cultural factors at every stage of each nation’s development process and assessing how any changes among those factors can be perceived to account for the evolving peculiarities of the emotional state of their emigrants.
  • Official statistics collected from government agencies were among the most valuable datasets used in the analysis, as they were easily accessible and produced on a continuing basis, generally beginning from the early to mid 90’s, allowing for easy measurement of change across time. Among these were the gross domestic product and foreign direct investment figures, as well as general population and emigration data.
  • Furthermore, data tracking the NGO sector dynamics fall under this category, and while these datasets were available in Lithuania and Latvia going as far back as the early 1990’s, in Estonia these figures begin only at the turn of the century, when the country established an official registry body.
  • Statistics related to externalities arising from COVID-19 as well as public perceptions regarding the effectiveness of measures implemented to handle the pandemic were relatively sparse. Only Estonia and Lithuania have to this point carried out such opinion polls and only Lithuania has done so on multiple occasions. Conversely, data on COVID-19 case dynamics are some of the most readily available, since effective tracking of these statistics is essential in allowing governments to design appropriate response programs.
  • Another challenging statistic was the European Social Survey’s satisfaction with life data, it began tracking these figures in western European countries as early as 2002, however in the Baltics this data trailed by several years, with first reports coming in 2006, well after these countries regained their independence and only after their integration into the EU. Furthermore, these surveys were carried out biennially and in the case of Latvia there is a significant gap in its dataset, covering a period from 2009 to 2017.
  • The difficulty in getting data on the Baltics going as far back as the 1990’s spanned across a large majority of the datasets that were deemed relevant for this research and is there for the primary obstacle for producing an all-encompassing and in-depth comparative time series analysis.

The collected empirical data still needs to be academically analyzed and thus it will keep me busy for the next year. During the application process I planned to write three papers and the goal is already accomplished (third paper is currently under review at the Journal of Baltic Studies). But I’m certain there will be at least one more paper, based on the empirical data and will be specifically dedicated to the comparison of the Baltic States. Therefore, once again I want to express my gratitude to the AABS for funding my research project! It was a real pleasure and honor to hold the name of Emerging Scholar granted by AABS.

– Dainius Genys, 2022

What is the Emerging Scholars Grant?

The Research Grant for Emerging Scholars is an award for up to $6,000, to be used for travel, duplication, materials, equipment, or other needs as specified. Proposals are evaluated according to the scholarly potential of the applicant and the quality and scholarly importance of the proposed work, especially to the development of Baltic Studies. Applicants must have received PhD no earlier than January 1, 2013. Applicants must be AABS members at the time of application.

The application deadline for academic year 2023-2024 is February 1, 2023. Applications will be evaluated by the AABS 2023–2024 Grants Committee consisting of AABS VP for Professional Development Dr. Kaarel Piirimäe, AABS President Dr. Dovilė Budrytė, and AABS Director-at-Large Dr. Daunis Auers. Award notifications will be made in April 2023.

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